‘Les Liaisons’ highlights 80s punk rock

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By Judah Taylor

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The carnal construction that is Christopher Hampton’s Tony nominated adaption of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” will be performed by the UK Department of Theatre this weekend, Oct. 11-13, and again the following weekend, Oct. 17-20, at the Guignol Theatre.

The play has been performed by Hollywood stars such as Harry Potter’s Alan Rickman and Hugo Weaving of the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Matrix.”

Reese Witherspoon starred in a film adaptation called “Cruel Intentions.”

Les Liaisons Dangereuses, or The Dangerous Liaisons, is a Machiavellian display of French Aristocracy shortly before the French Revolution. It focuses on two ex-lovers who use sex as a weapon in a scheme that is as sinful as it is scintillating.

“(The characters” do things that are not very nice to each other,” said Nancy Jones, chair of the UK Department of Theatre and director of the play. “Comparing the intrigue of the play’s audience to that of slow driving passersby of a car wreck, there is something about people doing diabolical things to each other that we love to watch.”

The characters themselves are just about as at ease as they are cruel.

“(They are) so deliciously casual about being evil. It’s the way we all wish we could act on our worst days,” said Madison McGhee, a theater senior who plays Madame de Tourvel.

Jones isn’t just relying on sex and deceit to excite the audience though — she’s added a few of her own creative elements to the production, beginning with the setting.

“We looked at the 18th century through the lens of an early 80’s punk rock scene,” said Jones.

While watching the first dress rehearsal Jones said she felt like she was back in a 1982 Los Angeles nightclub.

“Some of (the cast) are dressed like early Madonna, with leather and fishnet hose and a lot of makeup,” Jones said. “The costumes are incredible.”

The upbeat edgy feel isn’t Jones’ only unique addition to the script. She’s added an ensemble of six dancers and performers that will stay on the stage throughout the entire play.

“The ensemble uses dance to bring about an air of danger and trepidation. They never leave stage and become very vulture-like,” McGhee said.

The ensemble acts like the play’s spotlight and narrator, shifting the focus and setting the scene all while silently remaining in the background.

“We’re servants in the scheme of the play, but at the same time we’re observers,” said Isaiah Joao Dasilva Schmitt, a theater sophomore and member of the ensemble. “It’s almost as if we are guiding

the audience’s focus.”

But the ensemble does more than just help with scene transition and focusing of the action.

“They bring the raunchy, edgy and downright dirty aspect to the play that the scenes hide so eloquently,” said Abby Sheridan, a theater senior playing Marquise de Merteuil.

And according to McGhee they act as the embodiment of society who is observing the cruel embellishment of the French Aristocracy.

Les Liaisons Dangeureuses opens up this weekend. Performances are on Oct. 11-13 and 17-20 at 7:30 p.m., and on Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. in the Guignol Theater. Opening night is already sold out.

Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for the public.

To buy tickets, call the Singletary Center for the Arts ticket office at (859) 257-4929, visit them online at www.scfatickets.com or visit the ticket office.

For more information on Les Liaisons Dangereuses or any other upcoming production, contact the UK Department of Theatre at (859) 257-3297 or [email protected]